Bill increases taxpayer liability for illegal immigrants

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By Congressman Virgil Goode

Once again, the issue of the huge expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) came before the U. S. House of Representatives. For the fourth time in this Congress we had a vote on whether to expand the income guidelines by at least 50 percent for the SCHIP program and to significantly weaken the citizenship requirements for SCHIP. The issue is one of great expansion and not re-authorizing the existing program, which has already passed.

In December, 2007, the House voted 410-to-three to re-authorize the existing SCHIP program, including the tightened provisions that block illegal aliens getting assistance from the SCHIP program. I was one of the 410 who voted “Yes” on re-authorizing the current SCHIP program, which is funded from the General Fund and not by a special tax. There was overwhelming bipartisan support for the re-authorization of the existing SCHIP program in both the House and the Senate.

However, the fight in the House is over the huge expansion of the program to families making up to 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit or $61,950 a year. It also extends greater opportunities for illegals and recent immigrants to this country for getting into the SCHIP program.

The bill being pushed by a slight majority in the House increases taxpayer liability for illegal immigrants. It allows illegal aliens to receive Medicaid by weakening citizenship verification standards. The expansion bill permits states to use Social Security numbers to verify citizenship status instead of other, more reliable documentation requirements. Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue confirmed that the procedures outlined in the bill passed by the Senate and included in the expansion bill will not prevent an illegal alien from fraudulently using another person’s name and Social Security number to obtain Medicaid or SCHIP benefits.

Further, the expansion bill also gives states the option to enroll individuals in SCHIP who qualify for other welfare benefits through what is known as an “express lane” process. Therefore, an individual who qualifies for child care programs by self assertion that he or she is legally in the country may also be enrolled in SCHIP without any additional citizenship verification.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is a non-partisan entity that studies the costs of legislation that comes before Congress. The news media relies on the CBO as a non-biased source for accurate costs of legislative provisions. The CBO has reported that the cost of eliminating the citizenship requirement in current law is $3.7 billion. Giving illegals the opportunity to get into the SCHIP program is just another magnet for increasing illegal immigration.

Moreover, the expanded SCHIP program pushed by the House majority is funded by a special tobacco tax, which includes increasing the federal cigarette tax from 39 cents-per-pack to $1 a pack and adds a huge increase to the federal tax on cigars. The cost of a carton of cigarettes would go up by $6.10. A likely unintended consequence of a 156 percent increase in the federal cigarette tax will the bootlegging and the illegal sales of cigarettes.

Please keep in touch with me on issues that are important to you. You may write Congressman Virgil Goode, 70 East Court Street, Room 215, Rocky Mount, VA 24151; or fax to 1-540-484-1459; or call toll-free to the Danville office, 1-800-535-4008.